Embo, KwaZulu Natal
Embo is an “informal settlement” in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa with a population of 37,000 people. HIV incidence is shockingly high among 15 to 50 year olds. Yet there is no doctor. The Health Authority is overwhelmed. Indeed, until a local church – with MAI’s help – got stuck in, people with HIV had little by way of help and hope.
Embo Community Church began a home care giving programme which MAI has been supporting since 2008/9. Trained local volunteers are paid a stipend and are overseen by a qualified nurse with MAI funding for a driver, vehicle and consumables. In an average month, the Caregivers care for over 50 patients and their families bringing comfort and hope as well as practical support such as oversight of medication, bed making and advice on hygiene, sexual health and diet.
While this was a welcome initiative, MAI discovered that many people who had been referred by these Caregivers to a distant Clinic to discover their status frequently defaulted on their medication. Sometimes this was a failure to understand the need to continue the antiretrovirals even when feeling better. But primarily it was due to the challenge of having the energy or funds to make the arduous journey to the Bothas Hill Clinic which was not directly accessible from Embo.
As a result, in 2014, MAI fully funded a Clinic building for Embo which is helping to transform the health outcomes in the valley. The church is a fully recognised private healthcare provider with the Clinic running costs met be the KwaZulu Health Authority. Now in a typical month there are over 3,000 appointments, including hundreds of children who, without the Clinic existing, would never have received life-saving vaccinations. Most exciting of all, whereas the church used to hold two or three funerals a week in 2009, in 2017 there were only 3 deaths among the clients supported by this programme – more than 200!
In average month, we have found that 87% of the Caregivers’ clients are stable or improving. 60% of the clients will have committed to attend a self help group established by the church to improve the mental health of clients through shared stories and overcoming the stigma that still exists in the community.
Shortly after the Clinic was built, the Health Authority introduced new regulations requiring separate entrances and consultation rooms for TB sufferers. This is designed to prevent cross-contamination, both for clients and staff. This is a significant need as TB is a frequent consequence of suffering with HIV. To meet these new requirements, MAI has enabled the church to complete an extension to the Clinic which will become fully operational in 2018.
Both the Clinic and the TB extension are completed capital projects, costing the charity £125,000 and £65,000 respectively. However, the Caregiving programme is an on-going cost to MAI and your support would be much appreciated as we await the development of local business activity to ensure sustainability into the future and avoiding dependency. Just £20 a month enables the support of a person suffering from HIV, including the Caregiver, transport and consumables.
Caregiver Lillian has worked with her for some years. She began when this single woman had come out of hospital with no one to care for her. She had been diagnosed with HIV at her antenatal check-up. She went into premature labour and the baby was stillborn. Because of her newly diagnosed condition, she was kept in hospital. Further tragedy occurred when her boyfriend was killed in a car accident. She became very depressed. That was when Lillian heard about her. Once the lady came home, Lilian began caring for her. Now, she is much better on her medication. She is so thrilled with the work of the Caregivers that now she volunteers to work alongside the MAI supported Caregivers and loves helping others who are sick. She is also keeping well enough to hold down a job at the supermarket, able to support herself while giving back to her community.
HIV/AIDS patients mutual support groups hosted and fostered by our Embo Partner are sometimes challenging to sustain and discouraging when people fail to commit to attending and sharing honestly. But though slow and difficult, the
Tholakele (pictured above) is an encouraging example of how our Partner's Caregiving programme in Embo really does transform lives and make the place a better place. Caregiver Lillian has worked with Tholakele for some years.
This lady (pictured with Nurse Joyce) has a story that is far too familiar in Embo but very typical. One of the church Caregivers funded by MAI had been told of a this woman who
The man pictured above had been abandoned by his live-in girlfriend. His neighbour was concerned because she could hear him coughing and so contacted one of the church Caregivers, Mamlungiswa. When she arrived, she found
Nkosinathi on the left of our picture was born HIV positive. Now, he is 19 and completing high school! Sadly, it was not until he became sick at the age of seven - losing weight,